A PRAYER OF THE AFFLICTED—A Penitential Psalm
OUR PERSONAL REFLECTION: When we are suffering affliction, we cry out to the Lord. In this desperate state we are coming from a place of abandonment, feeling the separation from the Lord due to our sin and iniquity. In our pain we feel the darkness is around us, even as our enemies taunt us, but we must turn to the Lord for help. In our repentance, He will hear and answer. We can take hope in the eternal and unchanging nature of God who will be there for all the generations to come. He is the Creator of all and He will care for us from His throne in heaven. Although the psalmist does not give name to the afflicted person in this psalm, we can see parallels in the suffering of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. The psalmist paints a picture of a person who is overcome by grief and suffering. The life of the afflicted is “consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned like a hearth”.
This is reminiscent of the profound stress Jesus is under as he perspires with blood. We see the heart afflicted, “withered like grass”. We see the body afflicted, “my bones cling to my skin”. We see the spirit afflicted by abandonment, “I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop”. Jesus is alone in the Garden, even as he asks his disciples to stay awake, they are unable to do so for Him. More profoundly we can see Jesus alone as He takes on the cup that is before Him. He will take upon Himself the sins of the world, as He bears separation from God. “Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away.” v.10 “My enemies reproach me all day long; Those who deride me swear an oath against me” v8. We can see the suffering that Jesus endured from the world and the enemies that surrounded Him, not only in Gethsemane, but throughout His three years of ministry. He always had those in authority plotting against Him. But here in the Garden He is betrayed and this betrayal will culminate in His Crucifixion. This leads Him to the climax of His Redemptive mission which is His Resurrection. He is the Living God who has defeated sin, death and Satan once and forever.
[BIBLE READING: PSALM 102] Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You. 2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned like a hearth. 4 My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 Because of the sound of my groaning My bones cling to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop. 8 My enemies reproach me all day long; Those who deride me swear an oath against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away. 11 My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass. 12 But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations. 13 You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come. 14 For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust. 15 So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. 16 For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. 17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer. 18 This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord. 19 For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; From heaven the Lord viewed the earth, 20 to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to release those appointed to death,21 To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, 22 When the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord. 23 He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days. 24 I said, “O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. 25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. 28 The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.”
In v. 1-2 we have a lament to the Lord. The supplicant prays for His presence in this time of trouble, and that this prayer be answered speedily. This speaks to the urgency that is felt by the sufferer in this psalm.
In v. 3-7 the psalmist relates his utter lack of strength to go on. His life is unclear, he is losing heart, physically he can no longer care for his needs. He is feeling abandoned, vulnerable and all alone without support.
In v. 8-11 the psalmist relates his mistreatment at the hands of his enemies. He feels the effect of this abuse which is evident in his weeping. He states that the Lord has separated Himself from the psalmist and darkness now prevails in his life. The psalmist likens himself to withered grass, withered because of the lack of light which comes from the presence of the Lord in our lives.
In v. 12-17 the Psalmist embraces the power, mercy and faithfulness of the Lord who will endure forever. The Lord will bring favor upon his people, and His people will delight in His favor. The psalmist is stating a time when the Lord will be acknowledged by all nations as supreme. He shall appear in His glory, and be merciful to the prayers of the afflicted.
In v. 18-22 the psalmist recognizes that the Lord, who is in heaven, hears the groaning and the prayers of the afflicted. With this uplifting of His people, they will come together to praise and serve the Lord. The psalmist offers hope that generations yet to be born will know what the Lord has done for His people, and follow Him.
In v. 23-28 the psalmist speaks to the eternal nature of God, who is the creator of all things. The Lord will endure forever. Although the earth and we will all perish, God’s years will have no end. The psalmist speaks to the unchanging nature of God in contrast to the changing nature of man. The Lord of all creation continues throughout all the generations yet to come.
This daily Equip Devotional has been provided by Rev. Marie Parma as we take time this Holy season in anticipation of the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.
Let us pray…
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